The resource boom and regional development in Western Australia

Rachel Elaine Chapman

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    Abstract

    This study looks at the period between 2001 and 2011 to explore the various ways that the recent ‘mining boom’ in Western Australia has impacted people and communities. It examines the implications of rapid resource-led growth on rural and remote localities across the State, and how the impacts vary across space and time. It does this through a series of published papers that examine: i) the ways in which communities adjust to the establishment of major new resource projects; ii) the ‘lived experiences’ of residents in rapidly growing resource communities and comparing the experiences between different places; iii) how socioeconomic wellbeing varies from place-to-place and over time; iv) how local competitiveness affects uneven socioeconomic performance across mining communities; and v) how the mining industry is impacting selected non-mining communities. A mixed-methods approach drawing on both qualitative and quantitative techniques was used to address the multi-faceted nature of these topics. Methods included content analysis, semi-structured interviews, Q-methodology, and statistical analysis.

    This thesis draws attention to the diverse experiences of resource communities in Western Australia across both space and time. While a common suite of global economic processes contributed to Western Australia’s recent resource boom, the study showed that local context ‘matters’ and is important in helping to explain the spatially uneven performance of mining communities. These place-based factors included local company structure, the commodity being extracted, remoteness and local competitiveness. Moreover, local policy responses were also critical in shaping the ways in which communities adjusted to rapid resource-led growth. Yet, despite the importance of local context in shaping variability, the study shows that global economic processes were the main drivers of growth and change. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that these became increasingly important as the boom persisted, often overwhelming local factors. The study also highlights the increasingly complex regional spatial linkages associated with the resource industry. Changing labour practices saw a number of traditionally non-mining towns drawn more into the resource economy, contributing to new spatial interdependencies within regional Western Australia. Collectively, these shifts have begun to transform the nature of regional development in Western Australia and have contributed to new dynamic and complex policy and planning concerns.

    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - Jul 2015

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